The 2024 Ford Ranger Makes Me Feel Right At Home

Can a girl live with a midsize pickup truck? And - gulp - tow a trailer? We drove the 2024 Ford Ranger through the Utah mountains to find out.

2024 Ford Ranger
Feeling at home in the Ford Ranger XLT. Photo: Allison Bell

The 2024 Ford Ranger Pickup Truck has a New Look and a Whole New Vibe.

The last time I drove a Ford Ranger, it wasn’t pretty. That’s because it was my brother’s 2000 model — and it had a manual transmission. I still remember with painful clarity every shuttering stop each time I tried to slowly take my foot off that clutch and give it some gas. (My dad constantly telling me, “It’s just a FEELING, Allison!” really didn’t help.)

My then-teenage self, with her all-too-fragile ego, began to resent this truck. I gave up trying to drive it after just one frustrating lesson and would only ride in it as a passenger ever since. Those were the days when there was no real second row — just those itty bitty jump seats that are cool when you’re a kid but less so when you start developing hips. Unfortunately, as the youngest of the brood, I was frequently relegated to the jump seats.

I couldn’t drive the truck, and I couldn’t even comfortably sit in it as a passenger. We were “work friends,” nothing more. Maybe that’s why I never saw myself driving one in my adult years—too many tainted memories.

But then… Ford recently brought the updated 2024 Ford Ranger to my neck of the woods for a test drive — and I may have changed my tune.

Related: 2024 Ford Ranger Mid-Size Pickup Truck: More Powerful, Off-Road Capable

Ford Ranger

The 2024 Ford Ranger almost looks like it’s posing for the camera. Photo: Allison Bell

The Midsize Pickup Truck is Just Getting Better With Age

With this latest redesign, the Ford Ranger is now entering its fifth generation. It’s got a wider grille, a wider body (all the better to haul that plywood), and an updated cabin with more storage compartments. It’s also now exclusively offered as a four-door crew cab (ta ta forever, jump seats!) that comes with a five-foot bed.

For one full day, Ford let us drive Rangers through the Utah mountains — just a stone’s throw from my house — and it didn’t take me long to feel right at home behind the wheel.

But not before I had a little heart attack first.

Related: The 2024 Ford F-150 Pickup Truck Got a Makeover — and a Bevy of New Benefits

2024 Ford Ranger

The trailering assistance on the new Ford Ranger was truly something. Photo: Allison Bell

I Still Can’t Believe They Made Me Do That…

I would like to preface this next part with a disclaimer: Never before in my life have I towed anything. I’ve never needed to, I’ve never wanted to, and I never expected I would ever have to do it. And yet, in an effort to show off the new Ranger’s unique towing capabilities, the Ford team threw me right into the fire first thing and had me back up a trailer in the tightest, most un-beginner-friendly course they could have devised.

But with just a little guidance from a co-pilot in the passenger seat, I was shown how to activate the towing assistance, and the Ranger pretty much took it from there. Not only did I get stellar camera views from both sides of the truck that showed exactly where my trailer wheels were, but the Ranger automatically turned the wheel for me. I only had to make minor adjustments with a rotary knob in the center console, lightly touch the gas, and bam! I made it to my target in just a minute or so. Relief, pride, wonder — I felt it all.

Oh, but the torture had just begun. The Ford team also brought along a competitor (which I will politely refer to as “The Other Guy”), and they made me do the same course with that truck’s tech. I don’t think I have ever sweat so much in my life. Crunch went one cone. Then another. Then another. I considered begging the Ford rep (who was not getting paid nearly enough for this) to let me out and take over The Other Guy, but we got there. Eventually. It probably took at least 10 or 15 minutes. I wish that were an exaggeration.

Once I “successfully” completed the course, I jumped out and vowed never to haul a trailer again—unless I had a Ranger.

Point taken, Ford. Point taken.

Related: You Got This: Everything You Need to Know about Towing 

2024 Ford Ranger

Beautiful truck, beautiful backdrop. Photo: Allison Bell

Go, Go, Power Ranger

Aside from getting a fresh makeover inside and out, Ford focused on boosting the Ranger’s performance capabilities for 2024. Buyers will have the choice between two engines: a 2.3-liter EcoBoost or a more powerful 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. The latter will be available later this year.

My XLT trim tester had the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, which I got to put to the test on mountain roads and the freeway. While its power didn’t blow me away, the words “confident,” “comfortable,” and “capable” kept coming to mind. As a Utah local, I’ve spent plenty of time cruising the winding road up Big Cottonwood Canyon, and not every car I’ve driven has been totally up to the task. You can almost hear the engines wheezing by the time you make it to the top.

That wasn’t the case with the Ranger. It never struggled to maintain speed even at climbing altitudes, and the fact that the automatic transmission never really caught my attention was a good sign. It did its job silently, smoothly, and well.

Merging onto the freeway was pretty similar. I wasn’t blowing past anyone with my 270-horsepower EcoBoost engine, but I wasn’t falling behind either. It worked just fine. And that’s all I needed…

…But I may just have to take that V6 variant out for a drive once it becomes available around here so I can compare and contrast it.

2024 Ford Ranger

Check out that legroom in the second row. Photo: Allison Bell

Hooray For a Family-Friendly Second Row!

It’s a pet peeve of mine when a second row has a ridiculously small amount of legroom. I know, I know — you can’t expect a midsize pickup to be as accommodating as a full-size truck. That’s fair. But when even my kids’ little legs are cramped against their boosters with my seat pushed as far forward as I can stand, that’s where I draw the line and say “no, thank you” to a vehicle.

Luckily, I’m very happy to report that the Ranger did not have this problem. I don’t know how Ford did it, but they managed to maximize the roominess in the rear row so that even I, as an adult, felt comfortable enough to stretch my legs out without bumping into the seatbacks in front of me. I immediately thought of how easy it would be to get our two kids back here co mfortably and made a mental note to mention this to my husband. That one feature alone could ensure that this truck ends up in the Bell family garage someday.

But in case you’re not hauling around kiddos or other passengers in the second row, Ford made it possible to fold those rear seatbacks down flat so you can carry all your non-human cargo with ease. Brilliant!

2024 Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger has a 12″ center touch screen, wireless charging pad and plenty of little compartments. Photo: Allison Bell

How Much Does the 2024 Ford Ranger Cost?

Maybe I’ve just grown used to things being so pricey these days, or maybe I’m just completely out of touch with midsize pickup truck prices, but I was pleasantly surprised when I learned how relatively affordable the 2024 Ranger was. Excluding the all-new Raptor trim, the “regular” Ranger comes in three trims (XL, XLT, and Lariat) with an MSRP range of $32,670 to $43,630.

The XLT trim, which I drove, had a base MSRP of $39,490. It came with a few added bonuses, such as the Advanced Towing package and Tech package to bump the price to $45,545. Even with the added goodies, it seemed like a very reasonable asking price.

2024 Ford Ranger

The 5-foot bed almost feels bigger than five feet. Photo: Allison Bell

But How Much Does It Really Cost?

Sticker price is one thing, but the true cost of any car, truck, or SUV manifests itself over time. This is where Ford has some bragging rights. According to a press release, Kelley Blue Book recognized the 2023 Ranger model as the midsize pickup truck with the lowest five-year total cost of ownership. That’s taking into account such things as insurance, maintenance, fuel costs, and depreciation. Definitely something to keep in mind if you’re considering buying one.

2024 Ford Ranger

A good-lookin’ lineup of 2024 Ford Ranger trucks. Photo: Allison Bell

What You Need to Know about the 2024 Ford Ranger

  • Three trims available: XL, XLT, Lariat
  • MSRP range: $32,670 to $43,630
  • 3-liter EcoBoost (270 horsepower, 310 pound-feet of torque) is still the standard engine
  • 7-liter EcoBoost V6 (315 horsepower, 400 pound-feet of torque) will be available later this year
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • 7,500-pound towing capacity
  • Premium cloth seats are standard
  • 8-inch digital instrument cluster standard; 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster available
  • 1-inch center touch screen standard; 12-inch center touch screen available
2024 Ford Ranger

See how that rear seat folds down flat. That’s a favorite feature for sure. Photo: Allison Bell

Nothing “Mid” About This Midsize Pickup Truck

I thought I was solidly in the camp of “go big or go home” when it came to trucks. Give me all the power! All the second-row space! All that extra towing capacity! (I don’t really need that last one, but I’m drunk with greed and want it anyway.)

The 2024 Ford Ranger is perhaps the first midsize pickup truck that might make me change my mind about needing something bolder and beefier. It checks so many of the Mom-must-have boxes: It’s durable, it’s reliable, it comes with enough basic tech and driver-assistance features to make my life easier, and there’s a pretty good amount of legroom for my kids in the rear seat. Plus, it’s a fair amount cheaper than the midsize SUV we currently own, which may be the most compelling selling point of all from a mom standpoint.

I consider myself extremely fortunate that I was able to drive this truck through hills and roads that I regularly frequent with my family. If we were to buy the Ranger, this is exactly what we’d be doing with it: loading up the kids, heading for the hills, and doing a little adventuring.

My teenage self has grown up — and she can definitely see herself driving this thing.

2024 Ford Ranger

Raptor Chief Program Engineer Juan De Peña demonstrates the ease of the new cargo foothold. Photo: Allison Bell

Disclosure: I was Ford’s guest for this test drive event. All opinions are my own.

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Allison is a freelance writer, a mother of two, and the wife of a car-obsessed husband who got her... More about Allison Bell